THE FANZINE THAT FEATURES SMALL AND UNSIGNED BANDS
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
INTERVIEW WITH NEUTRAL LIES
Hello, please tel lus who Neutral Lies are and describe your music.
Hello there,so NL is a duo whose members are Jean François Dean and Nicolas Delbarre. We do electronic music,we are not very keen on "musical tags" so we'd say that our music is an odd blend of electro pop / New wave / minimal electronics / EBM / Synth pop and techno.
As far as my intelligence goes (not that far, mind you) Neutral Lies is something like an alliance between two different countries, not?
N- No worries mate I don't think our intelligence goes any further anyway...Well in fact NL is an alliance between two old friends who both had different and hectic background. Jean François spent his life between Northern France and Corsica and Nicolas spent his time between Essex in England and Northern France too.
JF – Hello ! I hope Nick will enjoy Corsica this summer, the way he got me addicted to England and English people ! A real rescue from the french way of teaching : “ my taylor is ritch”or “Mr and Ms Miller are going to the zoo”.....
Anyone who says synthpop says the eighties. So do you think you’re inspired by the 80’s and is this for you the best decade in music
N- It would be slightly sectarian to say that it was THE best decade for music even though we probably said it once or twice when we got carried away talking about the "good old days". It was a great decade for sure,especially cos even charts oriented stuff was good quality and some top of the league artists had this bloody stomping sound.Not to mention the variety of independent bands and labels available at that time and all the self released artists. But other decades are also interesting and had some amazing acts. It is pretty obvious that we were influenced by the 80's,a decade we grew up in and with...
JF-! I think that the most important thing to my eyes in the 80’s Is how music composing changed. The advance in technology, with synths, drum machines and the early use of computers as a sequencer changed the deal in depths. Musicians got their creative independence and were able to play alone, recording tracks and gather bits and pieces as a whole song. This democratisation of technology seems to have given another meaning to the future, as people became real actors. Just like photography killed paintors, video killed the radio stars....and machines quietened down guitars (for a decade)
I do admire synthpop but I guess it is pretty difficult to stay original in this genre, not?
N/JF- As we said before we don't really have the impression to be a so called "synth pop" band or we don't use this term to describe our tunes. We are an electronic band,that's all and yes you are dead right, it is definitely hard thing to remain original because the use of electronics and machines is so widely spread even in other musical genres that it makes it hard to stand apart and have a sound of your own that will make people go "wow that kicks arsse ! never heard it before
As a band do you listen to all the other stuff from other bands in search of ideas? The reason I ask this, recently a band told me that the best inspiration comes from music a man don’t like….
N- Honestly not really,we don't want to be mere copycats.We do music in a very instinctive and genuine way,it is more influenced by our personal experiences,mood and state of mind. I like your quote cos it is very realistic and we would stick to this,it's always easier to know what you don't want to do or what you don't want to sound like,and sometimes it's a tricky bastard to express what you really want.
JF- I often say that maybe, if I was born in another place I would be playing sitar or digereedo right now. The fact is I was born in Europe and I learned the piano. The feelings and emotions depend on the musician himself and the moments he lived, whatever the instrument used. What would have happened if Nick had been blind, and if I'd been one armed ?
In fact , if you compose a song : how do you work? I mean do you seek inspiration in something that exists or are you looking for something that come out of the blue?
N- We are very different in the way we work cos we always start by working separately and then we compare/share the ideas we've had. But we also proceed in a very different way,I am a bit more minimal in the way I compose tracks,everything is organised,sort of squarey, I like to start a track and finish it whereas Jeff is more intuitive and gets very much carried away by his inspiration and emotions,sometimes he writes 4/5 songs (just drafts) whereas I want the one track I have started to be completed. Then we get together in the studio and we include the vocals and lyrics and then add any possible improvements.Some of the tracks on "A deceptive calm" were really and properly finalised when we were together cos we injected a lot of new sequences,gimmicks and arrangements to the first original versions. As for the lyrics we're both inspired by true to life things like real events or personal experiences but we also use things that come out of the blue as you stated.
JF- Nick has made a right summary of our way of working on Neutral Lies, it seems as a complementarity, a converging dialogue, from two different ways of creating and inspirations. No arguing (so far) ;)
Reason I’m asking this is that I think Neutral Lies are quite original which isn’t that easy to find in the synthpopleague…..
N- Thanks a lot,much appreciated.The essence of the band really lies in the fact that we don't want to stick to a single style of electronic music,if we can release an album in which 2 tracks will sound synth pop,2 will sound more techno,2 will be more minimal and so on,then we'd be chuffed to bits as we say in England. We like this blend of influences.
JF – Yes, trying not to repeat myself, I think that it comes from the fact that we merge our differences, I mean sounds that each of us use and the two different ways to create.
I understood you’re not that keen on bands who are going for the analogue sound, why is that?
N- Don't get me wrong,we have nothing against analogue keyboards,we use some ourselves and we like some bands that sound 200 % analogue but what really niggles us is the nutters who are so committed to analogue synths that they refuse to use Midi for example. We've already been told that bands like us were not worth listening cos we also used more recent keyboards or even VSTs (hinting we didn't sound vintage enough)...this way of thinking still is a mystery to us....
JF- As we can get all types of sounds with modern equipment (I mean Midi / Vst / Virtual analog synths and computers) and though we own old stuff too, we are not devoted to Absolute analogue system, because we are not scientists. I couldn’t stand having kilometers of notes and paper pads, about the last positions of my synth knobs, just to retrieve the sound (more, you never find it right as it was).
Apart from the music I also noticed your sleeve which was so eighties in the sense that it was actually cold like some Factory-release?
N-I think cold was probably the word I was looking for,yeah we did mention earlier on that we didn't think nor want to be put in a specific genre but yeah we can say the music is cold and so is the sleeve. I remember the demo version was even worse which made people at BOREDOMproduct say "errr lads,we like your music but with a sleeve like that why don't you do some collage and handprint it so you'll be able to flog it in Camden Market on Sunday mornings...like demo tapes in the 80's..." so with sound advice from Member U-0176 we decided to go for something more modern and colourful...but still cold,something which really reflected our state of mind in fact.
JF- There’s a kind of fascination for unhuman sized buildings, like industrial sites, factories, dams, chimneys that provide a direct dangerous emotion. It seems so unreal sometimes with smoke, lights ,bestial machine sounds, and you see no one there, like working on your own. That kind of landscapes or water tower evokes feelings like forsaking,loneliness and dark thoughts, in fact melancholy .
I guess an album is like having an album, what were your first thoughts when you had “A Deceptive Calm” in your hands?
N - I think it was a great achievement bearing in mind that we'd both played in different bands and also together in the past two decades and that even if there was some sort of potential,we never made it through cos there were three or four of us in the band and people were not that motivated or they started a project but never completed it. So the first satisfaction for us with "A deceptive calm" is to have worked hard and to have finalised this venture,going from a good demo to a real finished product.
JF- I was very excited though I knew it inside out, I opened it as a child on a christmas day ! Then, you remember all those moments spent on filming in the cold, the places where some tracks were born, people you met on the way, London, Marseilles...This CD is really the incarnation of a kind of story full of images smells and feelings.
Classic question I always ask… What’s your fave record of all time and please state why….
N- Just for Member U-0176 at BOREDOM,I was about to say TRANSPARENT ILLUSION: "Still human" LP but this would be a private joke even if if it's one I really like despite the fact it's one of the most DIY,homemade records I've ever heard. No,seriously it's difficult to answer this one,honestly there have been so many terrific releases in the last 50 years that it's tough to summarise with just one item,especially as I'm a rabid vinyl collector and I have thousands of records here, Jeff is also a music buff and it would be slightly restrictive to name just one.I'd say I've got about 500 favourite records or songs so...among others I remember one track: "In Your Memory" by Depeche,"Then records,I'd say "That total age" by Nitzer Ebb or "Pornography" by The Cure as some of them,and that's just in the new wave genre...I also listen to other musical styles so I would never limit my passion for music to one single item.
JF- I find it hard to answer too.... Well, like in Art, I hate chronology and history, I prefer watching what’s holding the line of time, instead of the line itself. Once again feelings will speak for myself. I am as interested in Gary Numan for the unique style, as I like techno as an outlet. I like Chopin (it’s not a tribute to gazebo), Bartok, Fauré... Siouxsie and the Banshees , trentemøller,................. c’mon...it’s a torture ! There are so many more to be listed, and I don’t want to make a catalogue. Sorry !
The last words are yours….
N- Thanks for your time and interest.Stay cool hang loose !